September was a month of firsts and fruition for Nanauwe Vanderhoop. This Island-raised musical artist released her first single, “I Am My Spirit,” on Sept. 9 with a music video for the song following just a week later. At only 20 years old, Vanderhoop recorded and produced the song through her own production company. She also edited and co-directed the “I Am My Spirit” music video.
The song perfectly showcases Vanderhoop’s talent. Drum beats carry the song through its end, enhanced by several backing layers of Vanderhoop’s own voice. Her tone is rich and bodied—almost hypnotic as Vanderhoop delivers the message of “I Am My Spirit.”
Having loved music throughout her life, Vanderhoop feels her first single has been a long time coming. “I knew what I wanted to do at a very early age,” Vanderhoop said, noting the songs she wrote and sang even in her earliest years of childhood.
With the release of “I Am My Spirit,” Vanderhoop is finally able to share this passion with the world. “[‘I Am My Spirit’] is about being vulnerable and expressing all the feelings that I have inside, and letting that be open for everyone to see in order to help others feel comfortable with being vulnerable themselves,” Vanderhoop said.
Vanderhoop thinks of the song as an affirmation — a means of connecting to the inner self, spirit, or being. “By simply listening to and repeating the words of my first song, people are bringing that vibration, that frequency, into their own lives,” Vanderhoop said.
Music for Vanderhoop is largely tied to spirituality and culture. She is a member of the Wôpanâak tribe, also known as the People of the First Light, and was raised on the Island in a literal sense. Vanderhoop spent five years of her youth growing up in a teepee on land inherited from her great-grandfather.
Vanderhoop’s upbringing has only inspired her. “I had that connection to my ancestral land. I knew exactly where my roots came from — my ancestors were doing ceremony on this land, they were living here, they were tending to and having a relationship to this land,” Vanderhoop said.
Since then, Vanderhoop has moved to the West Coast. “I was really being called to go out to California,” Vanderhoop said. Here, she attended an arts boarding school for her final two years of high school before enrolling in the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. “I’ve made so many beautiful connections to different kinds of people who each have their own gifts,” Vanderhoop said of life in California.
Even far from home, the Island stays with Vanderhoop in a very real way. She considers herself a healer within her music and hopes to expand to other facets of her life. “I’m going to start making natural products with things that I forage from the land out here, just to further the healing experience that I want to give to people,” Vanderhoop said.
In addition to her new pursuits, Vanderhoop will be releasing new music as soon as this month. “There’s a single that’s going to drop, it’s called ‘Meditate on It,’ and it’s going to be coming within the next couple of weeks,” Vanderhoop said.
Though Vanderhoop’s message is strong within her music, she speaks it just as eloquently. “Part of the inspiration for [‘I Am My Spirit’] is acknowledging the individual person, and how important just one person is. How much of an impact, how much change, balance, healing, and impact that just one person can make,” Vanderhoop said.
Vanderhoop has been touched by the people who have reached out to her, empowered by her music and the meaning behind it. “I want to encourage these individuals to hone in on the gifts that they’re in this lifetime with,” Vanderhoop said.
Watch the music video for “I Am My Spirit” on YouTube, or listen to the song on all major streaming platforms. For more information on Nanauwe Vanderhoop and her musical pursuits, visit nanauwe.com.